As part of its January 2017 issue exploring our evolving understandings and definitions of gender, National Geographic is featuring nine-year-old transgender rights activist Avery Jackson on its cover—the first time a trans person has made the cover of the magazine.
Jackson rose to stardom last year when she began documenting her transition with “Avery Chats,” a series of YouTube videos describing how she came to understand her identity at such a young age and eventually came out to her parents as trans.
“When I was born, doctors said I was a boy, but I knew in my heart I was a girl,” Jackson explained in her first video. “So I may have some boy body parts, but that’s not wrong, that is OK.”
The National Geographic cover features a quote from Jackson which echoes the messages that have been central to her advocacy since she began: that she’s always been sure of her gender and that she loves who she is.
“The best thing about being a girl is, now I don’t have to pretend to be a boy,” the quote reads.
The issue is out on December 27. An accompanying documentary produced by National Geographic and hosted by Katie Couric is set to premiere in early February. Speaking to NBC Out, National Geographic editor-in-chief Susan Goldberg said that the both the upcoming issue of the magazine and the documentary are an attempt to tell the stories of transgender people that might not necessarily get widespread coverage otherwise.
“We wanted to look at how traditional gender roles play out all over the world, but also look into gender as a spectrum,” Goldberg said. “There’s lots of coverage on celebrities, but there wasn’t an understanding on real people and the issues we face every day in classrooms or workplaces in regards to gender.”